The Horned Helmet – Myth or Truth?
What is the popular image you reflect about when you hear about he furious warriors of Viking era? A bearded man, probably red-haired, rather big and brutal, armored, with a sword or an axe in one hand and a shield in the other, and… wearing a horned helmet on the head! The image of a Viking may have been incomplete without this simple detail.
But is that true that Vikings wore such headgear so popular in the mass media? Probably not. Horned helmets were imposed on us over years in order to distinguish the furious Norse warriors that behaved in the battle just like the bulls on the arena. And it started in the 19 century since the Viking characters appeared on stage in costumes and horned headgear.
There some evidence exists that the real Viking helmets were more like common Norman ones. They were made simple: one piece of solid iron transformed into a bowl with a conical tip, or, sometimes, blacksmiths used crossed iron bands and filled the space left with iron plates or leather.
The only helmet that could belong to Viking originating from the 10 century was found at Gjermundbu in Norway, and it had no horns at all. Nor there are any depictions of the horned helmets during that period of time. The legend could be derived from the Roman chronicles and archaeological findings that were falsely referred to the Viking age. These decorated helmets were worn on the ceremonies and feasts long before Vikings.
In the Norse sagas, helmets were associated with the high ranked chiefs, kings and its guard.
It is possible to find really good replicas of the Viking age armor, having an opportunity to choose a helmet that would protect your head in fighting, staged battle, reenactment, will be suitable for role games and so on.